There have always been a number of hoop toys that kids and adults have used around the world. The Hula Hoop, which would be considered the modern hoop toy, was initially invented in 1958 by Richard Knerr and Arthur K. Melin. What differs from the Hula Hoop from the traditional hoops that have been used for centuries is that it is made from formed plastic instead of grapevines, willow reeds, grass, or rattan.
You might not know the names of these two inventors, but you likely know the name of the company they started together: Wham-O. You won’t hear about this company inventing a lot of products, but instead being the “originator” of modern popular toys. Here’s a look at some of the other products that Wham-O originated.
Flying discs are also something that has been around for centuries. Many even believe that the discus, a competitive event that uses a flying disc, was part of the original Olympic games. What Wham-O did was create a plastic version of the disc so that it could be an affordable toy that families could use to play catch. Frisbee use has evolved into sports as well, with golf and Ultimate Frisbee popular options. Here’s a fun fact: it was initially known as the Pluto Platter.
2. The Slip ‘N Slide
Who ever thought that a long plastic slide that was wet would be so much fun? Kids and adults alike have enjoyed using this invention that Wham-O has marketed since 1961 and there have been several innovations of this original slide over the years. Today you’ll find pools at the end of the slide, overhead shower components, and other variations that can personalize the experience. When the weather turns warm, you can get cool with this invention.
3. The Superball
Norman Stingley invented a compressed rubberized plastic ball that would bounce over 75 feet just by standing on the ground. Although the compound would break down over time with the initial Superballs, the fun that could be had with them made them a very popular toy. A large Superball once even fell out of the 23rd floor of a building, bounced back up to the 15th floor, and then totaled a car – but the ball survived.
4. DIY Bomb Shelter
In the 1960’s, there was a constant threat of war that was going on around the world, but especially in the United States. During the Cuban Missile Crisis, for example, there are numerous stories of people saying good-bye to each other because they believed the end of the world would happen over the coming days. Because people were looking to protect themselves, Wham-O developed a DIY bomb shelter and provided the plans at $119 a piece.
Over the years, Wham-O has originated a number of very popular toys, from the Super Soaker to the Hacky Sack and even the Bubble Thing. A company designed to give kids and adults the opportunity to have fun, there’s a good chance that you’ve got a Wham-O product in your home right now.
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